October 10, 2010 - October 3, 2010
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I'm thinking about
am I thinking about? Wait and see. It's a pip, believe you me.
DAD IS TURNING OVER IN HIS GRAVE
. Yeah, it was Brizoni who once
opined that he liked InstaPunk
except when we were indulging in Christian apologetics. Sorry, B-Boy.
This time we ran into a kind of perfect storm -- separate hints that it
was time to mention the dreaded C-word once again.
It started with a TV show I watched on behalf of all our sci-fi junkies
here. Stargate Universe
work my fingers to the bone for these kids, lemme tell ya. Well, it
producers had the wit to engage Robert Carlyle, the brilliant Scottish
actor whose presence could probably make me watch even the brainless
sitcom Two and a Half Men
effin' way. I exaggerate sometimes. You don't?) So I watched the first
four episodes of Stargate Universe
though I had never watched the various other Stargate TV things after
catching my first glimpse of the trans-gendered Oprah clone with the
bar code on his forehead. He
gave me the
creeps. Like this
does (absitively NSFW but posilutely funny).
Where were we? Oh. Stargate Universe
Not a rave review but not a pan either. Anything Carlyle is in is worth
watching, unless, you
. The extreme outer limits of the universe and a crazy Scot go
together somehow, if you know what I mean. The pilot episode was an
hour and a half long and resolved nothing, except for killing off Agent DiNozzo
Live-wire NCIS agent and a dead
senator. With me so far?
I had all kinds of problems with the pilot. Who really thinks that a
bunch of marooned people in immediate danger of losing their lives
can't see what's most important in spite of all their soap opera
bullsh_t? And who believes that even (er, especially
) in a life-and-death
situation, military discipline would simply melt away into an ugly "me,
me, me" style tantrum of dim-witted resistance against the one Scot who
be able to find a
way out? I mean, I know Scots are all a__holes and like that, but come on
. If they're the only guy who can understand the ship's
ancient alien command consoles
, wouldn't you stop hating him
long enough to listen when he says, "Stop pushing every f___ing button
you find!" Or at least the colonel in command might listen? uh, no.
But I dutifully plowed onward. (Such is my devotion to my flock.) And
then, in Episode 2, I thought I was going to have to pull the plug. You
see, the cast was marooned on an ancient spaceship that was running out
of oxygen scrubbers (?!), and so the ship (hmmm) aimed them at a desert
planet that just might have the lime they needed to replace the
scrubbers (Yawn. I know. Beam us down
Scotty.) And the gung-ho lieutenant in charge starts hallucinating the
way people in the desert do, only his hallucinations are religious,
focused on a drunken priest. "Here we go," I thought. Because -- and
this may surprise the flock -- I have become cynical about show biz
depictions of religion... BUT.
But the Catholic lieutenant turned out to be the hero. The drunken
finally an evil
corruptocrat but a too
man disappointed by the sins of the lieutenant he had raised like his
own son. And the hallucinations weren't. Hallucinations, I mean. When
the lieutenant had pushed himself as far and as hard as he could in
pursuit of his vision of Christ on the cross, the hallucinations
intervened directly, bubbling the water up under his passed-out nose so
that he could wake up and see the saving limestone sea a hundred yards
Hmmm. Now I'm starting to pay attention to the fact that this ship,
our hardy band of
idiots to this desert planet, is, despite all the excellent design
reasons to the contrary, a stylized cross
Double hmmmm. The ship itself knows something. What?
In the next episode, doom awaits. All power in the ship's systems goes
away. The colonel (who by my count has committed only four or five career-ending
court-martial offenses to date) decides that he'll offer life to about
a third of the cast by conducting a lottery for the fifteen seats a
surviving shuttle can ferry to a planet in the nearest star system. One
of the many (all) undisciplined enlisted men objects to the lottery and
gets cold-cocked by our favorite other
undisciplined enlisted man when he sees what's going on. When mutiny boy wakes up he goes looking for his erstwhile cheering section. They're playing cards in
the dark and tell him they're the "fun" ones. The "not" fun ones are
gathered at the ship's vast windows, watching their approach to the sun
that will kill them and reciting the Lord's Prayer. Yes, you read that
right. The Lord's Prayer
(Earlier in the same episode our sinful lieutenant recited the 23rd
Psalm.) What the hell is going on here? Are the writers of Stargate Universe
statement about God?
Possible. The only character more arresting than the charismatic Scot,
Carlyle, is the ship itself. The doom the lottery was intended to
forestall consisted of flight directly into the sun of the star system
the ship had aimed them at. Turns out, the ship is impervious to the
heat of a star and simply uses
it to replenish its power. Discovery of this fact causes the colonel to
register even greater suspicion of the only Scot on the scene.
But the rest of us are left to wonder... why is this massive ancient
cross flying through space, toward the ends of the universe? What are
the SyFy writers trying to pull off here? Don't they know they'll never
get away with it? Or are they
on a mission of their own?
Still don't know what I'm thinking about, do you? There was, while I
was ignoring the Stargate Universe
review I wasn't going to do, another annoying piece by atheist Christopher Hitchens
Annoying because, well, I'll explain later.
This week sees the opening on various
cinema marquees of the film Collision: a buddy-and-road movie featuring
last year's debates between Pastor Douglas Wilson, who is a senior
fellow at New St. Andrew's College, and your humble servant. (If I may
be forgiven, it's also available on DVD, and you can buy our little
book of exchanges, Is Christianity Good for the World?)
Newsweek's reviewer beseeches you not to go and see the film, largely
on the grounds that it features two middle-aged white men trying to
establish which one is the dominant male. I would have thought that
this would be reason enough to buy a ticket, but perhaps she would have
preferred the debate held in London last week featuring me and Stephen
Fry (two magnificent specimens of white mammalhood) versus  a
female member of Parliament who is a Tory Catholic convert and
the Roman Catholic archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria. It filled one of the
largest halls in the city, and many people had to be turned away. For a
combination of reasons, the subject of religion is back where it always
ought to be—at the very center of any argument about the clash of world
Ever since I invited any champion of faith to debate with me in the
spring of 2007, I have been very impressed by the willingness of the
other side to take me, and my allies, up on the offer.  A renowned scholar like Richard
Dawkins, who is quite used to filling halls wherever he goes with his
explanations of biology, is now finding himself on platforms with
dedicated people who really, truly do not believe that evolution is
anything more than "a theory." I have been all over the South,
in front of capacity and overflow crowds, exchanging views with
Protestants most of the time, but also with Catholics and, in New York
and the West Coast and Canada, with—mostly Reform—Jews in large and
well-attended synagogues. (So far no invitations from Orthodox Jews,
Mormons, or Muslims.)
I haven't yet run into an argument that has made me want to change my
mind. After all, a believing religious person, however brilliant or
however good in debate, is compelled to stick fairly closely to a
"script" that is known in advance, and known to me, too. However,  I
have discovered that the so-called Christian right is much less
monolithic, and very much more polite and hospitable, than I would once
have thought, or than most liberals believe. I haven't been
asked to Bob Jones University yet, but I have been invited to Jerry
Falwell's old Liberty University campus in Virginia, even though we
haven't yet agreed on the terms.
Wilson isn't one of those evasive Christians who mumble apologetically
about how some of the Bible stories are really just "metaphors." He is
willing to maintain very staunchly that Jesus of Nazareth was the
Christ and that his sacrifice redeems our state of sin, which in turn
is the outcome of our rebellion against God. He doesn't waffle when
asked why God allows so much evil and suffering—of course he "allows"
it since it is the inescapable state of rebellious sinners.  I much prefer this sincerity to the
vague and Python-esque witterings of the interfaith and ecumenical
groups who barely respect their own traditions and who look upon faith
as just another word for community organizing. (Incidentally,
just when is President Barack Obama going to decide which church he
Usually, when I ask some Calvinist whether he is really a Calvinist (in
the sense, say, of believing that I will end up in hell), there is a
slight reluctance to say yes, and a slight wince from his congregation.
I have come to the conclusion that this has something to do with the
justly famed tradition of Southern hospitality: You can't very easily
invite somebody to your church and then to supper and inform him that
he's marked for perdition.  More
to the point, though, you soon discover that many of those attending
are not so sure about all the doctrines, either, just as you very
swiftly find out that a vast number of Catholics don't truly believe
more than about half of what their church instructs them to think.
Every now and then I read reports of polls that tell me that more
Americans believe in the virgin birth or the devil than believe in
Darwinism: I'd be pretty sure that at least some of these are unwilling
to confess their doubts to someone who calls them up on their kitchen
phone. Meanwhile, by any measurement, the number of those who
profess allegiance to no church (I am not claiming these as atheists,
just skeptics) are the fastest-growing minority in America. And don't
tell me that warfare increases faith and that there are no unbelievers
in foxholes: Only recently I was invited to a very spirited meeting of
the freethinkers' group at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs,
Colo., where there has been a revolt against on-campus proselytizing by
 Thanks to the foolishness of the
"intelligent design" faction, which has tried with ignominious
un-success to smuggle the teaching of creationism into our schools
under a name that is plainly stupid rather than intelligent, and
thanks to the ceaseless preaching of hatred and violence against our
society by the fanatics of another faith, as well as other related
behavior, such as the mad attempt by messianic Jews to steal the land
of other people, the secular movement in the United States is acquiring
a confidence that it has not known in years, while many of those who
put their faith in revelation and prophecy and prayer are feeling the
need to give an account of themselves. This is a wholly good
development, and it is part of the pluralism and polycentrism that
distinguish the sort of society that we have to defend against all
enemies, foreign and domestic.[boldface
added by me]
First, a word about the boldface sections. 
Hitchens is laughing about the
idea of a female theologian. He's an a__hole. 
Neo-Darwinian evolution is
a theory. The fact is that
species change is observable and a fact. However, the specific
description of how
change occurs -- um, meaning Neo-Darwinian Evolutionary Theory
a theory. Sorry Chris. 
they're more polite and
hospitable. They're Christians.
Me too. 
uh, doubt is not lack of faith. It's rather the proof that people of
faith are intelligent, intellectual, and curious. DUH. 
The usual nonsense. See the next
My weariness with atheists is the weariness the smart always
experience with the dull.
Sorry to break it to y'all (to use an Obama locution...) This
insistence that "intelligent design" is synonymous with "creationism"
is nonsense, a priori
invoked as a defense of an indefensible position. It's evolutionists
who insist they have the right to separate the legitimate question about the source
of life from the subsequent change in life forms we see in the fossil
fool can see that
they're the same question. Denouncing those who see that they're the
same question is akin to Hitchens's famous pseudo-sophisticate diktat that the most
overrated experiences in life are champagne, lobster, and anal sex.
Most people know he's dead wrong about all three. Others know he's
wrong about at least one if not two of the three. But the lesson is the
same. People who play at being God are playing the fool.
Let me repeat that. People who play
at being God are playing the fool.
Awful. (This still isn't the
reason for the title and the pic, so bear with me.) I'd had it in mind
to do a post about the real
of powers -- between God and man -- but I wimped out because I'm sick
of hearing from the millennial clowns who think they know everything
and do know absolutely nothing in truly obscene detail. (To put
'obscene detail' in focus for you, these are the guys who believe
absolutely that all college girls on 'Spring Break' spread their legs
and flash/screw/pee on camera because they're 'emancipated,' and have,
themselves, never gotten laid or seen a bare breast or a, gulp, vagina,
shaved or hairy.)
Pretty much like Hitchens. And Allahpundit. Very very
tired of these condescending
jerks. Their unremitting insistence that we Christians are all
fundamentalists at heart, all creationists, all dumber than their Big
Ten (or Oxbridge) natural science majors. All they
are is lawyers. Lawyers of
philosophy. Cain couldn't have killed Abel because there were other
people in that other place who would have arrested his ass, and besides
there aren't any 'giants' or 'arks.' And 'Christ' was probably a
community organizer who offended the mayor of Chicago
and got his ass kicked for being a disobedient Jew
I'm only going to say this once. And tersely. The separation of powers
in the Constitution that matters is the separation between God and Man.
The framers understood that their real ace in the hole was belief in a
Christian God who would always stand in the way of Mankind's smartypants conceit
that it could divine
was best for all the dumb ones.
The role of God was Intercession. Thomas Jefferson was smarter than
everyone else. Why didn't he assert his right to rule
? If he were here today, you
think he wouldn't trounce
in every possible venue? What Jefferson understood was that men needed
God as a shield
government. Each man's personal relationship with God was a proof
against tyranny by government. Right is right and Government is, er, more
of the same old corruption, men masquerading as divinity.
Which brings me to the final
. The Pope is willing, he says, to let me keep the holiest
book in the world next to the King James Bible.
Now. Finally. As I said, I'm thinking about it.
an Episcopal Parish, a Path to Catholicism
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
ROSEMONT, Pa. — When the Vatican announced last week that it would
welcome groups of traditionalist Anglicans into the Roman Catholic
Church, leaders of one Episcopal parish celebrated as if a ship had
arrived to rescue them from a drifting ice floe.
“We’d been praying for this daily for two years,” said Bishop David L.
Moyer, who leads the Church of the Good Shepherd, a parish in the Main
Line suburbs of Philadelphia that is battling to keep its historic
property. “When I heard the news I was speechless, then the joy came
and the tears.”
This parish could be one of the first in the United States to convert
en masse after the Vatican completes plans for a new structure to allow
Anglicans to become Catholic while retaining many of their spiritual
traditions, like the Book of Common Prayer and married priests.
The arrangement is tailor-made for an “Anglo-Catholic” parish like this
one, which has strenuously opposed the Episcopal Church over decisions
like allowing women and gay people to become priests and bishops. Mass
here is celebrated in the “high church” style reminiscent of
traditional Catholic churches, with incense, elaborate vestments and a
choir that may sing in Latin.
“The majority of our members will be on board with this,” the Rev.
Aaron R. Bayles, the assistant pastor, said as he finished celebrating
a noon Mass devoted to church unity in a small side chapel lighted with
blue votive candles.
He said he was exultant when he heard the news from the Vatican because
he had always hoped to see the unification of Anglican, Eastern
Orthodox and Catholic Christianity.
“This may be a step in that direction,” said Father Bayles, the
parish’s new curate and a chaplain in the Air National Guard Reserve.
(The previous curate left to become a Roman Catholic.)
The Church of the Good Shepherd has long been at loggerheads with the
Episcopal Church, the American branch in the global Anglican Communion.
This year, the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania sued to take over the
church’s building, a magnificent stone replica of a 14th-century
English country parish that was built in 1894. The church’s property is
estimated by its accounting warden to be worth $7 million.
For 17 years, the parish has refused to allow the local Episcopal
bishop to come for a pastoral visit or confirmation, and then stopped
paying its annual financial assessment to the Episcopal Diocese of
Even the parish priest’s title and status are a sign of the conflict.
Bishop Moyer is not a bishop in the Episcopal Church, but he uses that
title because he was made a bishop in the Traditional Anglican
Communion, a conservative splinter group that played a crucial role in
persuading the Vatican to welcome the Anglicans.
In his office sitting room, where he keeps framed photographs of Pope
John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Moyer said he was one of the
38 bishops in the Traditional Anglican Communion who signed a petition
to Pope Benedict XVI in October 2007 asking for an arrangement that
would unite Anglicans with the Catholic Church.
He said the bishops even ceremonially signed a copy of the Catechism of
the Catholic Church to signify their full acceptance of Catholic
doctrine. Meanwhile, the global Anglican Communion, with 77 million
members, struggled to stay intact as conservatives splintered off or
protested from within. Some were Anglo-Catholic, but others were
evangelical Anglicans, dedicated to a conservative interpretation of
Scripture but wary of Rome and papal authority.
Under the arrangement, the Vatican said it would allow married Anglican
priests, but not married bishops. Bishop Moyers, a father of three,
said he was waiting to hear whether he and other bishops could be
Bishop Moyer acknowledged that some of his parish’s 400 members would
choose to leave rather than become Catholic. Some are former Catholics
who may not want to go back. Others feel loyalty to the Episcopal
Church, despite the conflict.
But Lynn Shea, a member of Good Shepherd for 10 years, said she hardly
cared what denomination the parish belonged to as long as the worship
service was reverential, the community was supportive and the pastor
was a genuine teacher.
“It doesn’t matter to us that much what exactly the church’s title is,
it just matters how people are to other people,” Mrs. Shea said. She
lost her 15-year old son to suicide this year and felt the church
embrace her family.
She said she did know some parishioners who would resist because they
had bad memories of strict Catholic churches and schools, or bad
impressions because of the sexual abuse scandals involving Catholic
Bishop Moyer said he had become increasingly eager to jump as the
ground underneath him became more and more shaky. In 2002, his former
diocesan bishop, Charles E. Bennison, defrocked him for refusing to
submit to the bishop’s authority, but Bishop Moyer remained in place.
(Bishop Benniso n himself was defrocked in 2008 after a church trial
found that he had covered up years before for his brother, a priest,
who sexually abused a girl.)
Even as their disputes escalated, the Church of the Good Shepherd never
formally left the Episcopal Church, unlike many other conservative
parishes and four dioceses. A big part of the reason is that Good
Shepherd did not want to be evicted from its property. Other
conservative parishes have lost court battles to keep their properties
when they tried to leave the Episcopal Church.
Bishop Moyer lives in a rectory on the church’s property. He said he
hopes to resolve the church’s “legal quagmire” over the building before
they decide to jump to the Catholic Church.
He opened the wooden door onto the circular driveway in front of the
church. On a glorious fall day, the scene looked like a tourist
postcard from Kent.
“It’s a beautiful church,” he said. “I hope we can keep it.”[boldface
added, with hosannas aplenty, by me, the OTHER Scot on board this ship.]
Monday, October 26, 2009
A YouTube Appreciation:
The 10 Greatest Sports
in the Last Half Century
tops overall but not on this
. There will be time to get to the earthshaking stuff,
but I'm prompted to do this entry today for several reasons. There were
the posts on Victor Davis Hanson's repudiation of popular culture,
specifically including sports. There was a weekend of college and
professional football -- and major league baseball -- that offered
glamorous spectacle (Patriots-Buccaneers in London), heartbreaking
close calls (Tennessee-Alabama), truly great collisions of great teams
(Vikings-Steelers), underdog triumphs (Arizona-NY Giants) and fatal
failures (Angels-Yankees), as well as the usual unfolding stories of
character that won't be resolved today or tomorrow but are nevertheless
fascinating to watch episode by episode (Jimmy Claussen of Notre Dame,
Terrell Pryor of Ohio State, and Matt Sanchez of the NY Jets.) There
was also IP's post on the Obama administration's attack on Fox News,
which cleverly used the Ali-Foreman fight as an example of an
over-confident bully who punches himself out before the real
big moment arrives.
I could have swallowed the temptations of everything but the last
incitement. It's been a couple years or more since I went looking for
the three sporting events I used to bore friends of mine in the
Seventies with the declaration that they were the three supernally great
individual performances I had been privileged to witness live (on television, of
course): Ali-Foreman, Secretariat at the Belmont, and Franz Klammer at
the Olympic downhill. I came up short then. This time I found them all. The video isn't uniformly
good, but at least it's there. Which means the events themselves have
not vanished into the ether as I had feared.
The discovery excited me. Many observers act as if YouTube is some kind
of worthless warehouse of kids behaving badly, if not obscenely. That
is its outer shell, to be sure, like a repulsive scab that covers a
core of deep value. YouTube in reality is a kind of sensory
encyclopedia, accumulating sights and sounds, nuggets of pure gold, from the entire span of
human history. The amount of edifying stuff in there is prodigious,
more valuable for the fact that it isn't strictly filtered and refined
into routine, packaged History Channel fare. The contributors are the
passionate, the ones who care the most and want to share the most.
Which means that it provides the unexpected boon of being not
an artfully edited time capsule
but an actual time machine
operated by people with frequently dirty or damaged goggles that are
nevertheless directly looking at or responding to the events
themselves. I LOVE it.
It's subjective history on the fly, scraps, collages, inspirations,
confessions of obsession, tributes, and an ocean of copyright
[As a writer with copyrighted material myself, I can tell you my own
position is simple. Borrow, steal, use all you want. Just mention where
you got it in the first place if
it's not too inconvenient, so that your audience can find their way if
they like it to the complete version, fully formatted. They will look
for it if they like it enough. The 'artists' who think they can, or
should, control access and use in the Internet age are not artists at
all; they're businessmen. I'd much
rather have a creation of mine acquire mindshare than revenue. End of digression.]
So anyway. I came up with a list of the Ten Greatest Sports Moments.
Moments. Mine. They're not in order of greatness but reverse
chronological, starting from now and working back fifty years. I'll
justify each entry unless I don't happen to feel like it. Here we go.
The 2008 Olympic Freestyle Relay
in Swimming. Not because of what's-his-name, but the other fellow. The
anchor who swam the swim of a lifetime, or two
lifetimes. Put that in your
pipe and smoke it, Dr. Hanson. It was -- what's the word? -- Olympian
one's from the world of
spoiled, corrupt, professional prima donnassquared
Super Bowl. You know
one. It even involves one of the worst of the narcisssist prima donnas.
But has it ever occurred to the condemnationists that participation in
a transcendent event might be part of the divine plan they subscribe to
for other people? Because this was
a transcendent event -- and a
lesson in humility for some 45 other narcissists and their several
million fans who sorely needed it.
As a Philadelphia sports fan, I regularly have to listen to WIP 610
SportsTalk, where there's a daily idiot who insists that neither golf
nor motor racing is sport at all because golfing and driving don't involve actual
"athletic ability." They require only "hand-eye coordination," meaning, I
suppose, something akin to what's needed to excel at darts, pool, and video games. I despise that guy. I'll give you my definition of
athletic ability later. Until then, here's:
The 1997 Masters
The Grand Entrance of Tiger Woods. His first win in a major. At
Augusta, which resisted (as I can't prove but do accept) the first
participation by an African-American golfer just as that country club (well, isn't it?) had always angled against
African-American membership. What a triumphant display of talent,
resolve, and character. And talent. Did I forget to mention genius? And
My most dubious entry, I
suppose. Not a triumph but a catastrophe. The 1981 crash of Danny Ongais
the Indy 500. BUT. I knew about Ongais long before he raced at Indy.
He began as a drag racer, known as "The Hawaiian." Nothing about drag
racing prepares you for road-racing except fearlessness at speed.
Unless total fearlessness might be a kind of, uh, athletic ability, the
capacity to perform coldly under circumstances most mortal men would
run away from. The importance of this clip is what happened a few weeks
later, which is not yet recorded on YouTube. Ongais's leg was
pulverized during the Indy crash, almost to powder. Yet a few weeks
later he was hoisted into an Indy car with a cage around his leg reminiscent of the Hellraiser villain, pins EVERYWHERE (can't
prove this part though I remember the reporting) in order to do a few
rehabilitative turns at another track; he broke the lap record the
second time around. The next part I also can't prove, though I saw it on
television. In his first Indy race back after the crash, Ongais kissed the
wall again, bounced lightly off it and passed another car on the same
straightaway. I saw
was CRAZY. The way most champions at anything are crazy. He's probably
dead or in prison by now, but he might be my favorite on this list
This one you all know. But
are your memories of the event itself or of the movie? Yeah, I liked
the movie, too. But here's the real
1980 Miracle on Ice
in all its bad-video glory.
I witnessed the Ali-Foreman
fight live on HBO. I didn't get to see the third Ali-Frazier fight in
Manila at the time because it was an extortionate pay-per-view deal and
I was too poor to pay. Thus, I read all about it, in gruesome detail,
before I ever got to see it -- the early rounds to Ali, the punishing
middle rounds to Frazier until it looked after the tenth like Ali was
exhausted and beaten. Followed by the greatest late-round comeback by
any heavyweight in boxing history, which you can see here
. But do
judge for yourself. I was always an Ali fan. I listened to his first
title fight in 1963 on a transistor radio under the covers while my
parents thought I was asleep. I was the only one in my fifth grade
class who was for
Cassius Clay and thought he would beat the dreaded Sonny Liston. So
I've never been exactly neutral on the subject.
7. The event itself was better than the video, but at least the video
is here. Call this one the "Victory of the Overdog." Klammer was the
favorite to win the downhill in the 1976 Olympics. But he got a bad
draw in terms of order. By the time he skied, the course was torn up,
the temperature was turning other skiers' tracks into icy ruts, and the
times had been deteriorating as a result. But Klammer was Ongais on
skis -- he raced not at the nine-tenths of his competitors but at
ten-tenths of his ability. The fuzziness of this video
it hard to see just how beyond
the edge he seemed to be throughout his run, but 'beyond' is exactly the
right word. Why else would I have remembered it for so long? In almost
the same terms as this...?
The Triple Crown had become
a distant memory by the time of Secretariat. Everyone was used to
Kentucky Derby, yes, Preakness, yes... Belmont Stakes, awwwwww. Then
Take a look at the steady incremental retreat of the camera as
television coverage tries to keep at least one
other horse in the same frame
with the greatest racehorse of all time. At the end, even that couldn't
be done. Secretariat flies across the finish line all alone.
Appropriately and magnificently alone.
I told you I'd cover fifty
years worth. This is a remedial entry from 1966. Even those of you who think
they properly appreciate
Ali's greatness against Foreman and Frazier, and even those who are
sure they understand the cost of his three year layoff after the title
was stripped for political reasons, may not know what those three years
took away from him.
(Yes, I know he chose, just as Ted Williams chose, to lose part of his
career for conviction. And I admire Ted Williams's sacrifice more than
Ali's by far, BUT...) Would Frazier ever have stood a chance against this fighter
without the enforced idleness, legal ordeals, and rushed return to the
ring of the opponent Frazier narrowly defeated in (Madison Square
Garden's version of) the "Fight of the Century"? Not a chance. This
fight footage is probably a record of the greatest heavyweight talent ever
to appear in a boxing ring
right before it got sat down for a huge chunk of its prime. Cleveland
Williams was a knockout puncher, not a bum of the month. The Ali who
decked Foreman and came back to stop Frazier in the 14th was no longer
the prodigy of the Williams fight. He was just a champion who refused
to lose, It cost him everything. (God, how I wish he'd retired after
Manila... He won a lot more fights but the price of proving that the
world's greatest boxer can take more punches than anyone else and still
win is bitterly unacceptable. As much as I cheered Ali, I now grieve for
Ali. But I include this clip because this is how I really remember
him, dancing and invulnerable lightning.) I know. I'm old. Which is why
I know the kids don't care
about the duration of the Phillies revenge motive. But we do. The early
odds put the Yankees at 2-1 to defeat the reigning World Champion
Philadelphia Phillies. This final link is just a reminder that even the
Yankees have had their George Foreman
Just sports. Do you think? It's especially convenient for nerds and
geeks like us to dismiss "jocks" as thoughtless, purely physical idiots
who excel only at some combination of strength and coordination. Truth
is, it's just not so. The physical talents do
have to be there, but they don't
result in these kinds of moments without a whole raft of other
attributes, including brains, courage, character, perseverance, faith,
focus, and, well, something like destiny. As with every other strain of
human aspiration, the apex of "athletic ability" is synonymous with the
apex of human achievement; i.e., the most achieved with ALL the
Something to think about? I
Still feeling superior to the a__hole jocks, are we? Maybe not so much?
The outer edge of the envelope is always pushed for a purpose, even
when you think the only pressure is on the lickem-stickum.
Complacency accrues to the interpreters, not the pushers.
Friday, October 23, 2009
The Fox News Fiasco
Rope-dope. Rope-a-dope. Knockout.
SMART STRATEGY? "NO MAS."
This may be one of those topics Lake is
referencing with his observation, "Sometimes you don't comment on some
big event that is on
everyone else's mind." Frankly, I'm not that concerned about this one.
because nothing is at stake. A lot's at stake. But there's a point at
which you relax. So much is out of your control. Ali is going to get
hammered to death on the ropes by the deadliest puncher in heavyweight
history, or, uh, he's not. You have to trust that a champion really is
a champion and let events take care of themselves. For example, there
are are guaranteed certified liberals who work for Fox News, some of
them intensely annoying to conservatives like me. Like Ellen Ratner.
What does she
have to say about this blatant assault on the freedom of the press?
I have been working for Fox News as a
confirmed liberal contributor for twelve years.
I know from the inside of the Fox News Channel operation that they are
clear about the dividing line between reporting and opinion. They don't
like to mix the work of reporters and the show hosts nor should they. I
sit at the White House with Fox's White House reporters and they have
asked the same questions as other reporters -- both during the Bush
administration and the Obama administration.
As a liberal commentator on Fox News Channel I have never been told
what to say and have only been asked to restrain myself once in twelve
years. And when was that? -- It was on the day that Michael Jackson
died and the producer asked me to keep my negative views to myself till
some time had passed. That's a concern I can respect. They welcome my
thoughts and views and they would welcome President Obama's views as
Other lefty Fox contributors like Terry McAuliffe and Bob Beckel have
volunteered or reluctantly conceded the same point on the air. And
don't think they aren't also working behind the scenes to defend their
own integrity and point out the value of their presence on a network
which has numerically more
Democrats and Independents in its audience than CNN and MSNBC. Let the
body-punchers do their thing. Let the guy behind the punches make the
biggest mistake of all -- disdain the seemingly passive target of his contemptuous,
Barack Obama is pretty interesting when
he gets in front of his money-givers — his biggest fans, I guess. In
New York, he said, “Democrats are an opinionated bunch. You know, the
other side, they just kinda sometimes do what they’re told. Democrats,
y’all thinkin’ for yourselves...”
I probably shouldn't tell you what I think of the g-dropping Obama, the
"One" who thinks he can really get away with sounding like a down-home preacher
to his richest audiences when he insists on sounding like a Harvard
know-it-all to the rest of us. So I won't.
But why did I think of the video above? Because NRO's Nordlinger, who
reported the anecdote above, was also moved to remember this
from the independent, free-thinking lefty past:
Let me share with you a letter I
published in Impromptus, my NRO column, last year. It had to do with
hissing, which was a subject about which I had just written a piece:
Sometime in the late ’70s, Norman
Mailer came to Zellerbach Hall at UC-Berkeley to give a talk. The place
was sold out. This was during the period when he was writing pieces
refuting Germaine Greer. He walked onstage wearing cowboy boots, Levis,
and a shirt and jacket . . . and he had a rolling sort of John Wayne
As he stepped up to the microphone, he said approximately the
following: “I know that about half of you here tonight hate my guts
because of my stand on feminism. So let’s get that out of the way. I
want you to hiss me. I want you to let all of your feelings toward me
out. Come on, hiss me!”
And the most spine-chilling hiss arose from the audience. It lasted ten
seconds. I’d never heard anything like it before, and I haven’t since.
It was authentic and deeply felt. And when it subsided, Mailer leaned
into the microphone and said, softly, “Obedient bitches.”
Most readers here will know that I'm not over-fond of Norman
. However. The ONE book of his I really liked was called "The
Fight." It was about Ali versus Foreman. He had a front row seat. He
was a gifted writer about prizefighting, if nothing else. And he made
it clear that the punches Ali took from Foreman during his
"rope-a-dope" rounds were so loud and devastatingly hard that he
couldn't believe Ali was still standing after Round 2, let alone Round
7. Who is it in this war that really has the belly for a
fifteen rounder with no timeouts for hurt feelings and bruised egos
Kurtz addressed the accusations of both
parties on Reliable Sources with a panel of top of journalists.
Marisa Guthrie, programming editor for Broadcasting & Cable
Magazine, said that when administration officials target Fox News, it
doesn't help the President's image or message, and magnifies publicity
for the Fox News brand.
"[Obama] can talk to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but he can't talk to Chris
Wallace? So, I think it really undermines his unity credibility. And if
he's not on the network and administration officials aren't on the
network to counter some of the stereotypical caricatures, then, you
know, where do you go from there?" Guthrie asked. "Fox News doesn't
thrive on access from the administration. They're the opposition. They
thrive on agitation... [Fox News President] Roger Ailes said, 'don't
pick a fight with people who like to fight.'"
Because sometimes they fight back.
One, two, three, four... nine, ten, OUT, you obedient bitches.